Northeast Hemi Owners Association cap weekend with show despite rain

Published on Sunday, 3 September 2017 22:44
Written by Erica Schmitt

Staff Writer

BRISTOL - Despite it ending in a drenching rain, car lovers from across the northeast enjoyed a fun-filled weekend in the city.

Members of the Northeast Hemi Owners Association gathered at the Double Tree Hotel by Hilton Friday evening to begin three days of activities, culminating with an All Mopar Car Show Sunday. Connecticut-based car club Mopars in Motion hosted the outdoor event, which didn’t see as many cars as it has in past years due to the day’s wet weather.

“Normally this is an overfilled, packed lot,” club President Ralph Barbagallo said, standing beneath an awning off the hotel’s patio, where a barbecue lunch was served.

The few dozen show cars that were parked in the lot were mainly those driven to the association’s Fall Meet Friday from other states.

Rain didn’t keep Cheshire resident Fran Blacker from joining the group in his 1966 Plymouth Satellite. It was sitting pretty in the front row of the lot, painted candy red.

“These meets only come around every two years so I have to come out, rain or shine,” Blacker said. “Getting my car wet is no big deal to me. The rain usually keeps people from coming because their cars have had so much work and money put into them. Mine is un-restored so it’s not a risk.”

The trip was worth it to catch up with old friends and fellow car lovers, Blacker pointed out.

“I got together with some people I haven’t seen in years,” he added. “They come from out of state.”

The weekend began with a party at Kizl’s Restaurant in Southington, where over 175 cars and their owners gathered for a special cruise night. Saturday the group cruised through the Litchfield Hills, stopping at Averill Farms and the CT Antique Machinery Museum. They chatted cars over drinks and dinner at an annual banquet Saturday evening inside the hotel, where many out-of-state visitors stayed.

“It was an excellent weekend; we had a great turnout,” said Barbagallo, who lives in Bristol.

He hosted friend and fellow member Tom Tarzwell, who came from his home in Rhode Island for the meet. Tarzwell’s 1969 Dodge Charger RT stayed dry in Barbagallo’s garage Sunday.

“I had it here yesterday but took it back last night because of the weather,” Tarzwell said.

Barbagallo’s own ’67 Plymouth GTX was on the lot for the show. Both the exterior and interior feature the same dusty rose hue, an uncommon color for the brand.

“I’ve owned it since 1988,” Barbagallo said. “It’s got the famed hemi engine in it.”

Not all of the NE Hemi Owners actually own cars with Chrysler’s trademarked hemi engines. Some own newer models with the third-generation hemi, a totally different animal.

Hemi stands for hemispherical combustion chamber, originally designed in the early 20th century and developed further for increased engine power by Chrysler’s engineers following World War II. Mopar is a term used to describe vehicles made by Chrysler.

“All of their cars are engineered to do certain things,” Barbagallo explained. “Chrysler’s engineers were ahead of their time. They’re not looking to be the biggest, just to serve the enthusiasts that love them as best they can.”

That includes members of Mopars in Motion, who have a busy event season from spring through the fall. Their next show is set for Sunday, Sept. 24 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Artioli Chrysler Dodge Ram in Enfield. After that is Super Car Races Fall Muscle car Nationals ‘Show and Go’ on Oct. 8 in West Lebanon, NY.

For more information about club activities visit or call Ralph at 860-416-1228.

Erica Schmitt can be reached at 860-801-5097, or

Posted in The Bristol Press, Arts, Bristol, General Business, General News on Sunday, 3 September 2017 22:44. Updated: Sunday, 3 September 2017 22:47.